Was NRCC Staffer Cooking The Books?

February 6, 2008 10:08 a.m.

Ever since Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), the chairman of the National Republican Campaign Committee, disclosed that “we learned earlier this week of irregularities in our financial audit process,” people have been scrambling to find out what’s up. Cole pointed to a single former employee as the culprit, and said that the irregularities might “include fraud.”

Today, the Politico reports that, the employee, Chris Ward, was a longtime employee of the NRCC, and the committee, already hurting in comparison with its well-funded House Democratic counterpart, may be in for even more hurt as Ward’s “irregularities” are sorted out:

“There is a sense that this could be very damaging to the committee,” said a Republican insider close to the GOP leadership.

The precise details of the suspected accounting irregularities and their possible fallout are not entirely clear. NRCC officials and top GOP leaders are being tight-lipped in large part because the FBI is investigating the matter. An outside lawyer advising members and staff has warned everyone at the committee to keep quiet….

As treasurer, Ward was in charge of NRCC bookkeeping, tracking tens of millions of dollars in political contributions and expenditures. He has been at the center of NRCC bookkeeping for more than a decade…..

Several sources familiar with the investigation suspect the reporting irregularities could go back many years.

Real Clear Politics noted earlier this week that Ward served as treasurer “for campaign committees and leadership PACs including those of Reps. Jim Walsh, Jim Saxton, Peter Roskam, Lamar Smith and Denny Rehberg as well as Senator John Ensign’s leadership PAC.” It’s unclear if they may all be in for a hurting.

Update: Raw Story also notes that Ward was a partner at the firm that handled $230,000 worth of business for the Swift Boat Vets in 2004. So he got around.

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